Viva Las Vegas. . .And Rough Riders

I remember my first motorcycle ride. It was a Sunday afternoon in Vienna, Virginia. The sun was setting and my family was visiting my mother’s long-time friend Glenda. Glenda’s husband owned a red bike. I remember wishing I could ride the bike more than anything at that moment. Somehow, my wish came true: Glenda’s husband asked if I wanted to take a spin around the neighborhood. Of course, I immediately looked at my mom, with the saddest puppy eyes possible, for approval. With her blessing, I put on an oversized helmet and positioned myself on the back of the seat. With an engine rev, I was off! I will never forget that moment, and I’m certain many bikers feel the same way. Throughout New Mexico, you can see bikers in packs or riding solo cruising local roads and highways. Biking is a popular phenomenon among both men and woman. Biking is more than a hobby; it is a lifestyle. Motorcycle clubs host community events such as concerts, fundraisers, and rallies. This Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a biker rally in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The “Rough Rider Motorcycle Rally (RRMR)” is a decade-old event community gathering established by local bikers in 2005. The rally name is derived from President Theodore Roosevelt’s historic Rough Rider unit. The first Rough Rider reunion was hosted in Las Vegas, NM and two centuries later it still maintains the rally tradition. Each penultimate week of July, the rally is held in Las Vegas. This year, the festival was held July 29th through the 31st in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. Bikers circled the downtown plaza one by one in ongoing traffic flow. I appreciated seeing a mother and daughter cruising to music that happened to be some of  my favorite hip hop classics. It reminded me of car sing alongs with my mom to our favorite rhythm and soul hits. In addition to the many bikers, there were also various vendors. Biker glasses featuring beloved sports teams, studded leather knee highs, and more were some of the featured paraphernalia for sale. And, like Santa Fe and other Northern New Mexican cities, Hispanic culture was integrated into the mix. Many vendors, and bikers honored ancestors and lost loved ones by sporting Dia de Los Muertos clothing.

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